Río Secreto: Mexico’s Secret Underground River

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What are you afraid of? I have two things that come to mind when I think of fears. The first one caused me to pass out on the top of a roller coaster in the Mall of America – not my finest moment and definitely a story for a different day. And the second one usually leaves me in awe of the planet and humans – once I get over the fact that I might end up buried underneath feet, sometimes miles, of rock if it were to come crashing down.

Río Secreto is a series of underground rivers and caves outside Playa del Carmen.

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During the ride from the resort to the site, I couldn’t shake the what if’s running through my mind. Most of them ending in my impending doom. Usually, I am that unlucky of a person.

Read More:  Where to Stay in Mexico: The Grand Mayan

After the bouncy ride, hiking through the Mexican jungle, and a blessing from a shaman, we finally reached the opening of the cave. Words cannot describe looking up from the bottom and seeing things from a slightly different perspective.

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The deeper we went into the cave the darker it got. Eventually, the only light was coming from our headlamps. I was a little bummed that mine seemed to be running out of batteries, but I still was able to see tons of incredible things with my sad little light.

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At one point about halfway through the hike, we were instructed to turn off our headlamps. We floated in the chest-high water and just be. Water dripped from a far off stalactite.

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Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop. 

Sitting there in the dark listening to the cave, all I could think about was how incredible this place is.

The photos on the brochure at the resort were stunning, but nothing can really prepare you for being there, underground seeing everything with your eyes.

The Tour

Before the tour even started, there was an announcement that we were not allowed to bring cameras into the cave. Being a photographer, I was really disappointed. I had just gotten a fancy schmancy waterproof/shockproof (read: Niki proof) camera that I was excited to test out. It turned out for the better since I was so focused on not tripping and falling face first into the water.

Each tour group has a photographer that follows you through the cave snapping photos of everyone along the way. The only catch is if you want photos, you have to buy them. In the end, it was a pretty good deal, photos and 3 bottles of the green “Mayan Tequila.”

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After the tour, we had a delicious buffet style lunch while we waited for the photographers to edit our photos.

The tour is definitely something I recommend you check out while staying in Cancún or Playa del Carmen.

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Have you done this tour? What did you think?

Don’t forget to PIN this to your “Travel” or “Mexico” board 🙂

*All photos in this post were taken by photographers at Rio Secreto


  1. Niki, your pictures are GORGEOUS and that place looks magical. Did you bring a DSLR with you into the cave?

    • Niki Gordon

      They’re not my photos, these are the ones that can be purchased at the end of the tour. They are gorgeous though. Definitely makes me want to go back!

  2. As a person who just loves being out in nature, I really loved this post. This would have been a fabulous experience and while I understand you would have been disappointed at not being allowed to take your camera, the photos that you did end up with were just brilliant. I would love to do this tour one day.

    • Niki Gordon

      In the end, it was really nice not having my camera attached to my face. It kind of reminded me that I spend too much time looking through my camera experiencing the world through a lens. The photos were well worth spending the extra money at the end!

  3. Courtney Blacher

    What a beautiful place to visit with my family! This is such a fun adventure!

  4. WOW! What a great post. Thank you!! The photos are absolutely stunning. It looks like a great time and fun adventure. Putting this pone on our vacation list for next year!

  5. Hi Niki! Thanks for posting your tour photos. I’ve read that there are some tight spots, and a “hole” to travel through. One reviewer said he had to turn back from the entrance (6’2″ 280lbs football player). Did you find any places too tight or uncomfortable for passage? I’m going to be taking this same tour next week and I’m worried about snug spaces.

    • Niki Gordon

      Hi Lesley! It’s been a while since I have been there, but nothing stands out in my memory as being overly challenging or difficult to get through. There may have been places I had to duck because I am also 6’2″ but nothing to deter me from doing it. I hope you enjoy it! This is the only tour I recommend everyone does when they go to Cancun/Playa del Carmen!

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